In December 2014, the South Australian Police Firearms Branch announced changes to the Permit to Acquire process. These changes will require shooters lodging a Permit to Acquire in respect to a second or subsequent category A, B or H firearm in a particular chambering, to justify the need for that additional firearm.
This change was sprung on shooters in the lead up to Christmas, and was announced in a letter to dealers that simply advised of the change, and of the ability of Police to require this. Unfortunately the letter did not indicate the reasons behind the change.
There is a rumour circulating, that the Registry feels that this change will reduce their workload. I suspect that the opposite may well be its effect, as it gives rise to another matter that shall need consideration and that may well give rise to appeals.
If work load reduction was the intention, it is respectfully submitted that a change like that adopted in Queensland, that allows an owner of a Category A or B firearm to trade that firearm in, and acquire another firearm within the same class, without obtaining a new PTA to be somewhat more logical.
Even better would be a no holds barred examination of the legislation aimed at ascertaining if aspects of the law, or the way the Registry implement the law, are efficient and effective.
Of course, the Registration system isn't efficient or effective in any Australian state or Territory. The high error rate establishes that it is not efficient, and there is no evidence that Registration has solved or prevented crime, so it is not effective.
To me, a more logical approach would be to do what Canada and NZ have done, and that is to focus the Registration system on military style semi-automatics and handguns.
Unfortunately, as there is no material available as to what the Registry is seeking to achieve by these changes, so all owners can do is to speculate.
It seems to the writer that an owner is going to need to have to differentiate between various firearms.
If I lived in SA, and I had to travel some distance in order to hunt, and much of my hunting was done on public land where I was allowed to hunt but not shoot to check the zero of my rifles, my first line of defence would be to argue that I needed to have a back up firearm.
I would then divide my rifles up in terms of what they are used for, and make a short list differentiating them. Thus, my Krico 600 .308 gets used as an open country deer and pig rifle.
When hunting in timber, I use a Browning Lever Action Rifle. (BLR). I do not find this rifle accurate enough for shooting beyond 200 metres or so, however, it is short and handy in scrub, and it offers a speed of fire that is useful when fast moving pigs in timber.
If I also owned a long barreled ‘zombie rifle’ in .308, this would be described as being used for shooting pigs and goats at extreme range. I would stress that while it is very accurate, this firearm is too heavy to be carried while stalking, and is used for long-range shots, across fields.
I recall, some time ago, hearing that a SAPOL Registry Manager advising staff that shooters were not the enemy or words to that effect. I wonder what has given rise to the shift in policy.
I would like to continue to monitor this situation. If you live in SA, please keep me informed of how these changes are working in practice.